TEACHINGS OF THE SHEPHERD'S ROD- TABLE OF CONTENTS
This Is one of several studies on the Shepherd's Rod (also known as the Davidian Seventh-day Adventist Church, and will provide you with an extensive Refutation of the primary errors in the teachings of the Rod.
Other studies in this series include: History of the Shepherd's Rod [WD41] The Latest Prophet of the Rod: Marc Breault (pG-41] Because it was already so thorough in its coverage, the following study is a reprint of a doctrinal analysis prepared several years ago by the General Conference. In addition, certain new doctrines have developed since then, primary among them being Lois Roden's teaching that the Holy Spirit is a woman, and Marc Breault's teaching that the only mediator in the heavenly Sanctuary has been, and continues to be, this woman Holy Spirit. For further information on Lois Roden, and Marc Breault, see WD41 and PG.-41, mentioned above. In the following study all italics have been added to quotations, unless otherwise noted.
The Shepherd's Rod literature teaches that the kingdom of David will be established for God's people here upon earth, particularly in Palestine, before the close of probation and the coming of Christ in glory. Their leader, V.T. Houteff, has said: "The eleventh-hour message has been timed and designed to reveal the Davidian Kingdom rising anew before the appearing of Christ in the clouds. "-The Answerer, No. 2 (1944), p.77.
He said also: "This prophesied era of absolute righteousness, peace, and knowledge of God On the kingdom) under the reign of the 'rod' (David) and of the 'Branch' (Christ), must begin before the close of probation. "-"Behold, I Make All Things New. (1942), p 45.
It is obvious that the Shepherd's Rod theory does not envision Christ, the great Son of David, as the visible ruler governing that kind of Davidic kingdom, since it is supposed to be set up here on earth before He shall come in glory to reign as King of kings and Lord of lords. The monarch of such a regime would not be the King David who ruled over ancient Israel, for he is dead and buried (Acts 2:29-34) and there is no assurance that he will be raised from his grave prior to the general resurrection of the righteous dead at the second advent of Christ (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18). Hence Mr. Houteff has instructed his followers that God promised "an antitypical David" to rule over them in that envisioned Davidic kingdom. (See V.T. Houteff, "Behold, I Make All Things New" , p 43; Mount Sion at "the Eleventh Hour" , p.13).
Moreover, the adherents of the Shepherd's Rod have been taught by their leader that the antitypical David who would rule over them should be another person than our Lord Jesus Christ. In interpreting certain Old Testament prophecies to suit his theory, Mr. Houteff illustrates it by means Of a drawing of a tree, concerning which he says:
"In this illustration there are three persons brought to view: Jesse (the father of David), the rod (David), and the Branch (Christ). The relationship shows that David (the rod) is not Christ (the Branch) . . "-Mount Sion at "the Eleventh Hour" (1941), p45.
A similar distinction of persons is made on page forty-six of the same tract.
It is by this process of theorizing that Mr. Houteff has excluded the possibility of Christ's being the visible ruler of the expected Davidic kingdom supposed to be set up on earth before He comes the second time. Hence Mr. Houteff planned for his followers a Davidic kingdom to be governed under the ensign of a "David the visible king and Christ the invisible King of kings." Ibid., p 47. That is, his plan is that Christ, as "the invisible King Of kings," should rule over the proposed Davidic kingdom by means of an antitypical underling described as "David the visible king."
Therefore, it is no surprise that Mr. Houteff, in calling for a "reorganization" (Ibid., p 47-50), has designed for his followers a regime theocratic in nature that is, a sort of combination of church and kingdom. "Thus His church, or kingdom," says Mr. Houteff, "is again reflected without 'spot or wrinkle, or any such thing' (Ephesians 5:27), a theocracy of peace, safety, and invincibility, under the rule of one shepherd and a king-David, His servant." Mount Sion at "the Eleventh Hour" , p 47.
The testimony of the Bible concerning the everlasting kingdom promised to David by the Lord is very clear (2 Samuel 7:16; Psalm 132:11). The promise of a future king to sit on David's throne was to meet its fulfillment in Christ, the mighty "Son of David" (Matthew 1:1; 22:42), the Root and Offspring of that ancient Hebrew monarch (Isaiah 7:1314; 9:6-7; Micah 5:2; Matthew 2:4-6; Luke 1 :32; 2:4,11; John 7:42; Revelation 22:16).
One of the Old Testament prophecies used by Mr. Houteff to bolster his theory of the Davidic kingdom is Ezekiel 34:23 (Ibid., p.19,47). On the other hand, Ellen G. White speaks specifically of Christ, and not another person, as the antitypical David referred to in Ezekiel's prophecy:
"The Holy Spirit through Ezekiel had declared: 'I will set up one Shepherd over them and He shall feed them.' 'I will seek that which was lost and bring again that which was driven away. . and will strengthen that which was sick.' 'I will make with them a covenant of peace.' 'And they shall no more be a prey to the heathen. . but they shall dwell safely and none shall make them afraid.' Ezekiel 34:23,16,25,28. Christ applied these prophecies to Himself, and He showed the contrast between His own character and that of the leaders in Israel."-The Desire of Ages, p 477.
Another prophecy used by Mr. Houteff to support his theory is that Of Hosea 3:4-5. But note in the following statement that Mrs. White declares that Hosea's prophecy will be fulfilled at the close of earth's history, when Christ shall appear as King of kings:
"The prophecies of judgment delivered by Amos and Hosea were accompanied by predictions of future glory. To the ten tribes, long rebellious and impenitent, was given no promise of complete restoration to their former power in Palestine. Until the end of time, they were to be 'wanderers among the nations.' But through Hosea was given a prophecy that set before them the privilege of having a part in the final restoration that is to be made to the people of God at the close of earth's history, when Christ shall appear as King of kings and Lord of lords. 'Many days,' the prophet declared, the ten tribes were to abide 'without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim.' 'Afterward: the prophet continued, 'shall the children of Israel return and seek the Lord their God, and David their king; and shall fear the Lord and His goodness in the latter days' (Hosea 3:4-5).-Prophets and Kings, p.298.
Christ made it very clear that He did not propose to establish a kingdom in this present world. When He was accused by His enemies of conspiring to do such a thing, He said emphatically to Pilate: "My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence" (John 18:36).
In reference to Zedekiah, the last king of Judah to sit upon David's throne, Mrs. White writes: "To the 'profane wicked prince' had come the day of final reckoning. 'Remove the diadem,' the Lord decreed, 'and take off the crown.' Not until Christ Himself should set up His kingdom, was Judah again to be permitted to have a king. 'I will overturn, overturn, overturn, it,' was the divine edict concerning the throne of the house of David; 'and it shall be no more, until He come whose right it is; and I will give it Him' (Ezekiel 21:25-27):'Prophets and Kings, p.451. (See also Education, p.179).
Mrs. White says of Christ: "Not until His work as a mediator shall be ended will God 'give unto Him the throne of His father David,' a kingdom of which 'there shall be no end' (Luke 1 :32-33.)"Great Controversy, p.416.
That statement makes it clear that the establishment of the throne of David as the kingdom of Christ will not take place until after probation has closed-not until His work as mediator has ended.
Concerning Christ's second coming we are told: "It is then that the peaceful and long-desired kingdom of the Messiah shall be established under the whole heaven. "-Great Controversy, p.302.
Not until the personal advent of Christ can His people receive the kingdom. The Saviour said: 'When the Son of man shall come in His glory and all the holy angels with Him, then shall He sit upon the throne of His glory: and before Him shall be gathered all nations: and He shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: and He shall set the sheep on His right hand but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on His right hand, Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world' (Matthew 25:31-34). We have seen by the scriptures just given that when the Son of man comes, the dead are raised incorruptible, and the living changed. By this great change they are prepared to receive the kingdom; for Paul says: 'Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption' (1 Corinthians 15:50). Man in his present state is mortal, corruptible; but the kingdom of God will be incorruptible, enduring forever. Therefore man in his present state cannot enter into the kingdom of God. But when Jesus comes, He confers immortality upon His people; and then He calls them to inherit the kingdom of which they have hitherto been only heirs." Great Controversy, p.322-323.
That makes it very plain that Christ will not establish His kingdom and sit upon its throne until His second coming in glory.
The Shepherd's Rod leader has declared that the headquarters of the Davidic kingdom which he advocates is to be set up in Palestine. He has announced that "the Kingdom in its beginning is to be set up in the Promised Land. "-The Answerer, No. 2 (1944), p.83.
Hence he teaches "that the Promised Land will be reinhabited by the Lord's own converted people."-The Answerer, No.2 (1944), p.75.
In an address dated August 10, 1946, he announced: "Right now the Lord is advertising for at least 144,000 lifesavers, with headquarters at famous Mt. Zion-a greater post than was held by Joseph. "-Timely Greetings, Volume 1, Number 2, p.11.
On January 25, 1947, he declared: "Virtually whole nations shall join 'the mountain of the Lord' while the law goes 'forth of Zion and the Work of the Lord from Jerusalem,' the future headquarters of the gospel."-Timely Greetings, Volume 1, Number 25, p.5.
And on November 27, 1948, Mr. Houteff said of his followers: "They are to dwell, not in some other land, says the Lord, but in their own land, in the land He had anciently given to their fathers. They are to dwell in Palestine.
"Now you plainly see that the unconverted Jews who are endeavoring to take the land of Palestine are not the people of whom these passages of Scripture speak. Now you see that Arab, Jew, or Gentile, all will eventually have to move away and give room to God's clean and purified people."-Timely Greetings, Volume 2, Number 42, p.36. He had alleged that there "are to be found five groups in the kingdom. These five groups are: (1) the 144,000 Israelites, the first fruits of the living, whose nobles shall be of themselves,' and whose 'governor shall proceed from the midst of them' (Jeremiah 30:21); they shall return to Jerusalem, and stand on Mount Sion with the Lamb; (2) those whom John saw, after the sealing of the 144,000, gathered from 'all nations, and kind reds, and peoples, and tongues,' during the great tribulation,' the time of trouble such as never was'-the great multitude who go to Jerusalem before the resurrection; (3) those who arise to everlasting life in the resurrection of Daniel 12:2; (4) those Israelites who shall come forth in the resurrection of EzekieI37:1-14; (5) all who come forth in the resurrection of Revelation 2O:6-collectively, those are all the Israelites and Gentiles who shall return to Jerusalem, possess the promised land, and then the whole earth. "-"Behold I Make All Things New" (1942), p.65-66.
The Shepherd's Rod teaching that the headquarters of the gospel work will be established in Jerusalem, in modern Palestine, and that there will be a mass migration of God's people from all parts of the earth to that place for translation to heaven when Christ comes, is a product of fancy that finds no support in God's Word or in the writings of the Spirit of Prophecy. In fact, Mrs. White wrote the following message of warning to our people in the early days of the church:
"Then I was pointed to some who are in the great error of believing that it is their duty to go to Old Jerusalem, and think they have a work to do there before the Lord comes. Such a view is calculated to take the mind and interest from the present work of the Lord, under the message of the third angel; for those who think that they are yet to go to Jerusalem will have their minds there, and their means will be withheld from the cause of present truth, to get themselves and others there. I saw that such a mission would accomplish no real good, that it would take a long while to make a very few of the Jews believe even in the first advent of Christ, much more to believe in His second advent."-Early Writings, p.75.
That testimony, given in the latter part of 1850, was not a condemnation of the Zionist Movement of Jews organized in 1897 at Basel, Switzerland, to establish a Jewish state in Palestine. Mrs. White warned against fanatics who were bent on going to Jerusalem to launch from that city evangelistic work for the people who had not received the knowledge of the truth. An editorial in our general church paper, in 1851, uttered this warning:
"We wish here to state that we as a people have no confidence in the strange notions, that some have run into, that the saints have yet to go to Old Jerusalem, etc, etc. Brethren, beware of such heresies."-The Review and Herald, October 7, 1851, p.36.
Although the testimony that Mrs. White gave in 1850 did not specifically refer to the Shepherd's Rod teachings, yet she emphatically condemned the idea in such a manner that it should not receive endorsement thereafter.
The Shepherd's Rod project of establishing the kingdom of David in Palestine, with the headquarters of the gospel work set up there, and with the 144,000 living there and directing the evangelistic activities of God's people for the conversion of souls in all lands before the close of probation, is contrary to the warning and counsel given us through the testimony by Ellen White.
Furthermore, the Shepherd's Rod teaching that the 144,000 will go to Jerusalem first, and will be followed later by the rest of the living saints, and there find a place of perfect peace and absolute safety before the close of probation and the second advent of Christ in glory, finds no support in the Bible and in the writings of the Spirit of Prophecy. For example, the founder of the Shepherd's Rod says of the proposed establishment of the kingdom of David in Palestine before the close of probation: "This soon-coming kingdom being not like an earthly kingdom, but like a heavenly one, its confines shall be a place of perfect peace and absolute safety. "-"Behold, I Make All Things New" (1942), p.44.
He says also that "in the land where the kingdom stands; there sin exists not. "-"Behold I Make All Things New", p 47.
On the other hand, it should be remarked that in so far as the teachings of the Bible are concerned, there is no indication that there will be any land in this present world where we can find perfect peace and absolute safety, where sin will not exist, prior to the close of probation and the second advent of Christ in glory. Such conditions will obtain for God's people alter our Saviour has removed them from this sinful world when He comes to receive them unto Himself.
"All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution"(2 Timothy 3:12). Christ said, "If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you (John 15:20).
Nowhere in the Scriptures or in the writings of the Spirit of Prophecy do we read that the 144,000 will be exempt from the persecution foretold in the following prophecy: "And the dragon was wroth with the woman and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ" (Revelation 12: 17).
Mrs. White says: "As America, the land of religious liberty, shall unite with the papacy in forcing the conscience and compelling men to honor the false sabbath, the people of every country on the globe will be led to follow her example."-6 Testimonies, p.18.
"Foreign nations will follow the example of the United States. Though she leads out, yet the same crisis will come upon our people in all parts of the world. "-6 Testimonies, p.395.
Since all of Palestine is a part of the world, it is clear from the statements given above by Mrs. White, that in that country the Lord's people will not find perfect peace and absolute safety during the final crisis.
"That which God purposed to do for the world through Israel, the chosen nation, He will finally accomplish through His church on earth today. He has 'let out His vineyard unto other husbandmen: even to ..His covenant-keeping people, who faithfully 'render Him the fruits in their seasons.' Never has the Lord been without true representatives on this earth who have made His interests their own. These witnesses for God are numbered among spiritual Israel, and to them will be fulfilled all the covenant promises made by Jehovah to His ancient people."-Prophets and Kings, p.713-714.
"While all the world is plunged in darkness, there will be light in every dwelling of the saints. They will catch the first light of His second appearing. The unsullied light will shine from His splendor, and Christ the Redeemer will be admired by all who have served Him. While the wicked flee, Christ's followers will rejoice in His presence.
"Then it is that the redeemed from among men will receive their promised inheritance. Thus God's purpose for Israel will meet with literal fulfillment. That which God purposes, man is powerless to disannul. Even amid the working of evil, God's purposes have been moving steadily forward to their accomplishment. It was thus with the house of Israel throughout the history of the divided monarchy; it is thus with spiritual Israel today.
"The seer of Patmos, looking down through the ages to the time of this restoration of Israel in the earth made new, testified: 'I beheld, and 10, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kind reds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes and palms in their hands; and cried with a loud voice saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne and unto the Lamb' (Revelation 7:9,10).-Prophets and Kings, p.720-721.
Brethren and sisters, let us ever remember that our destination is that "Jerusalem which is above" (Galatians 4:26). God's plan for His people is that they "come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem" (Hebrews 12:22). Let us stay in that company of faithful ones who "desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for He hath prepared them a city" (Hebrews 11 :16). This is the company to which Abraham, that mighty man of faith, belonged, "for he looked for a city which hath foundation, whose builder and maker is God" (verse 10). That is the New Jerusalem, the Holy City that John saw coming down out of heaven to become the capital of the kingdom of Christ, the Root and Offspring of David, in the earth made new. (See Revelation 21:2,10; 22:15,16). There, and there alone, we shall find a city of perfect peace and absolute safety, where sin does not exist to annoy and disturb our souls.
"Let us be encouraged by the thought that the Lord is soon to come. Let this hope gladden our hearts. 'Yet a little while, and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry.' Hebrews 10:37. Blessed are those servants who, when their lord comes, shall be found watching.
"We are homeward bound. He who loved us so much as to die for us, hath builded for us a city. The New Jerusalem is our place of rest. There will be no sadness in the city of God. No wail of sorrow, no dirge of crushed hopes and buried affections, will evermore be heard. Soon the garments of heaviness will be changed for the wedding garment. Soon we shall witness the coronation of our King. Those whose lives have been hidden with Christ, those who on this earth have fought the good fight of faith, will shine forth with the Redeemer's glory in the kingdom of God.
"It will not be long till we shall see Him in whom our hopes of eternal life are centered. And in His presence, all the trials and sufferings of this life will be as nothingness. 'Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward. For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. For yet a little while, and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry. ' Verse 35-37. Look up, look up, and let your faith continually increase. Let this faith guide you along the narrow path that leads through the gates of the city of God into the great beyond, the wide, unbounded future of glory that is for the redeemed. "-9 Testimonies, p.287-288.
Speaking particularly of the harrowing experience which the 144,000 shall have endured prior to their translation to heaven, Mrs. White says of them: "These, having been translated from the earth, from among the living, are counted as 'the first fruits unto God and to the lamb.' Revelation 15:2-3; 14:15. 'These are they which came out of great tribulation'; they have passed through the time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation. . they have stood without an intercessor through the final outpouring of God's judgments. . They have seen the earth wasted with famine and pestilence, the sun having power to scorch men with great heat, and they themselves have endured suffering, hunger, and thirst. "The Great Controversy, p.649.
1. The Shepherd's Rod theory that the kingdom of David will be established here on earth, particularly Palestine, for God's people before the close of probation and the coming of Christ in glory is contrary to the teachings of the Bible and of the writings of the Spirit of Prophecy.
2. The truth is that the promised kingdom of David will not be set up until after the close of probation and the coming of Christ in glory.
3. The Shepherd's Rod view that the antitypical King David is to be another person than our Lord Jesus Christ is contrary to the teachings of the Bible and of the writings of the Spirit of Prophecy .
4. The truth is that Christ, the mighty "son of David," is the person to whom the everlasting Davidic throne and kingdom have been assured.
Throughout this study it must be remembered that the term "harvest" is used in the Scriptures in more than one sense in its application to the carrying out of the plan of salvation. Here are two principal uses of the word as illustrated by texts of Scripture:
1. The word "harvest" is used to represent the gathering of souls into the church of God by the preaching of he gospel throughout the world before the close of probation. In this case, the reapers are the faithful men and women who teach the gospel to others.
Concerning this harvest, Christ said: "The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth laborers into His harvest" (Matthew 9:37-38).
Again: "Say not ye, There are yet four months and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest" (John 4:35).
2. The term "harvest" is used also to represent the gathering of the righteous and the wicked to their respective fates by angels at the second coming of Christ, to judge every man according as his work shall be, after the close of probation.
In the parable of the wheat and the tares the householder said: "Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather together first the tares and bind them into bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn" (Matthew 13:30).
In explaining the parable, Christ declared: "The harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man shall send forth his angels and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; and shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father" (verses 39-43).
John says, And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of Man, having on His head a golden crown, and in His hand a sharp sickle. And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to Him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe. And he that sat on the cloud thrust his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped.
"Another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle. And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire; and cried with a loud cry to Him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe. And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God" (Revelation 14:14-19).
These two important senses in which the term "harvest" is used in the Scriptures need to be kept clearly in mind by those who would not be led off into paths of error.
The Shepherd's Rod theory confuses the whole question of the harvest by taking texts that refer to the harvest in which the good and the bad are gathered unto their respective fates by holy angels after the close of probation, and applying them to that harvest in which souls are gathered into the church by gospel laborers before the close of probation.
To bolster the theory that a theocratic kingdom of David will be set up for God's people on earth-specifically in Palestine-before the close of probation, the leader of the Shepherd's Rod group has divided the harvest of the parable of the wheat and the tares into two sections, with two comings of Christ. (See V.T. Houteff, The Judgment and the Harvest (1942), p.52, 68.)
In presenting his view of that harvest, Mr. Houteff says: "Note that the separation takes place just at the beginning of harvest; also that the tares are gathered in first. The separation marks the beginning of harvest. The harvest is the loud cry of the third angel's message."-The Shepherd's Rod, Volume 1, (1930), p.104.
He says also: "Note that in the first section of the separation, the one in the church, the wicked are taken away from the just, whereas in the second, the one in Babylon, the just are called from among the wicked."-The Judgment and the Harvest (1942), p.68.
Again: "Since these escaped ones (the first fruits, the 144,000 servants of God-Revelation 7:3) 'shall bring all your brethren' (the second fruits, the great multitude-Revelation 7:9) 'for an offering . . out of all nations' (Isaiah 66:20, first part), this great ingathering necessarily, therefore, is the closing work of the gospel-the second section of the harvest." -The Judgment and the Harvest (1942), p.70.
According to the chart presented in The Shepherd's Rod (Volume 1, edition of 1930, p. 224), the harvest referred to in the parable of the wheat and the tares was to begin at the close of the year 1930, or the beginning of 1931, with the effort of V.T. Houteff to call out the 144,000 for the special work that he outlined for them to do in the harvest of the wheat. But the harvest of the tares would be, in his opinion, the slaughter of the Seventh-day Adventists who reject his message, for thus he supposed that the slaughter predicted in Ezekiel 9 would be fulfilled. (See also his tract The Answerer, No.1, , p.94-95).
Mr. Houteff, in his tract The Judgment and the Harvest, (1942), p.42-43, 49,67, alleges that the parable of the fish net cast into the sea, as recorded in Matthew 13:47-50, refers to the same thing. Hence the Shepherd's Rod theory concerning the parable of the wheat and the tares is that "the harvesting itself necessarily precedes the close of probation."-The Judgment and the Harvest (1942), p.66. We inquire, is that doctrine sound?
The Shepherd's Rod teaching does not harmonize with that of the Bible and the writings of Ellen G. White concerning the parable of the wheat and the tares.
In His interpretation of the parable of the wheat and the tares, Christ said: "The harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; and shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father" (Matthew 13:39-43).
And in His interpretation of the parable of the fish net, Christ said: "So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, and shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth" (verses 49-50).
Note that Christ, in explaining the parables, emphasizes two things: (1) that the harvest in which the separation of the bad from the good is to take place will occur at the end of the world; and (2) that the reapers, the agents by which He will effect that harvest or separation, will be His angels.
Ellen G. White says: "The great final separation of the righteous and the wicked He (Christ) had pictured in the parables of the wheat and tares and the fishing net."-The Desire of Ages, p.333.
This statement by Mrs. White makes it plain that in the parable of the wheat and the tares, and in that of the fish net, Christ did not refer to the investigative judgment, which takes place before the close of probation, and which decides who among God's professed people shall be accepted or rejected as candidates for entrance into the kingdom of glory. But He was speaking of the "great final separation" of the righteous and the wicked, which will take place after the close of probation. Hence Mrs. White comments:
"When the mission of the gospel is completed, the judgment will accomplish the work of separation. . Both the parable of the tares and that of the net plainly teach that there is no time when all the wicked will turn to God. The wheat and the tares grow together until the harvest. The good and the bad fish are together drawn ashore for a final separation.
"Again, these parables teach that there is to be no probation after the judgment. When the work of the gospel is completed, there immediately follows the separation between the good and the evil, and the destiny of each class is forever fixed."-Christ's Object Lessons, p.122-123.
Since the separation between the good and the evil will take place when the gospel work is completed, that separation must follow, and not precede, the close of probation. So Mrs. White consistently says:
"The tares and the wheat are to grow together until the harvest; and the harvest is the end of probationary time. "Christ's Object Lessons, p.72.
"The wheat and tares grow together until the harvest, the end of the world. "-Christ's Object Lessons, p.75. "Tiff the end of time there will be tares among the wheat."-The Ministry of Healing, p.493. (Italics added).
"Although there are evils existing in the church, and will be until the end of the world, the church in these last days is to be the light of the world that is polluted and demoralized by sin." Testimonies to Ministers, p.49. (Italics 5 added).
"He (Christ) has said that false brethren will be found in the church till the close of time. -Christ's Object Lessons, p.73.
"He (Christ) expressly states that the wheat and tares shall grow together till the harvest, which is the end of the world. Then the tares are to be gathered out of the field; but they are not to be transformed by a mighty miracle into wheat."-2 Spirit of Prophecy, p.250.
Such is Mrs. White's teaching in reference to "the teaching of Christ and His apostles, who declared that the wheat and the tares are to grow together until the harvest, the end of the world. "- The Great Controversy, p.321. And in comment on the parable of the fish net, Mrs. White writes: "Here again the separation of the wicked form the righteous at the end of the world is impressed upon the minds of His hearers, in words that cannot be mistaken."-2 Spirit of Prophecy, p.253.
"When the work of the investigative judgment closes, the destiny of all will have been decided for life or death. Probation is ended a short time before the appearing of the Lord in the clouds of heaven. Christ in the Revelation, looking forward to that time, declares: 'He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. And, behold, I come quickly; and My reward is with Me, to give every man according as his work shall be.' Revelation 22:11-12."-The Great Controversy, p.490-491.
1. The Shepherd's Rod theory that the separation between the good and the bad, as foretold in the parable of the wheat and tares and in that of the fish net, will take place before the work of the gospel is completed, and before the close of probation for mankind in general, is contrary to the teachings of the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy.
2. The truth of the matter is as stated by Ellen G. White: "When the mission of the gospel is completed, the judgment will accomplish the work of separation . . When the work of the gospel is completed, there immediately follows the separation between the good and the evil, and the destiny of each class is forever fixed." -Christ's Object Lessons, p.122-123.
"When Christ entered the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary to perform the closing work of the atonement, He committed to His servants the last message of mercy to be given to the world. Such is the warning of the third angel of Revelation 14. Immediately following its proclamation, the Son of Man is seen by the prophet coming in glory to reap the harvest of the earth."-4 Spirit of Prophecy, p.273.
The slaughter referred to in Ezekiel 9 is one of the principle subjects of the Shepherd's Rod teachings. We set forth here a few of the salient features of that teaching in order to compare them with counsels given us by the Spirit of Prophecy.
The Shepherd's Rod leader holds that the slaughter referred to in Ezekiel 9 is a slaughter of Seventh-day Adventists who reject the Shepherd's Rod message, and that it is to take place before the loud cry and the close of probation. Excerpts from his literature on this subject are as follows:
"Had the church as a body, or at least the leaders of the Seventh-day Adventist denomination accepted the message of reform as presented to them in 'The Shepherd's Rod, Volume 1, there would be no necessity for that class to fall by the figure of the five men with the slaughter weapons. It is the reception or rejection of the message that will fix the destiny of the two classes as described in the following testimony: (quotes Early Writings, p.270)."-The Shepherd's Rod, Volume 2, (1932), p.218.
In comment on Revelation 3:14-16, he says: "Note that the existence of the present name 'Seventh-day Adventist' is conditional, otherwise the name will be spewed out of His mouth."-The Shepherd's Rod, Volume 1 (1930), p.101.
Hence, Mr. Houteff reasons: "Thus, the church is reorganized under a new name. The old name, being polluted, could no longer be retained. There is no one to go by the old name, for the ones who were not worthy of having the new name have perished under the figure of the five men with the slaughter weapons of Ezekiel 9. The name only remains for a curse." - The Shepherd's Rod, p.155. And in reference to the "half an hour; of Revelation 8:1, he says: "Thus the silence of half an hour points forward to this great event for the church of God. Its fulfillment would bring us to the time of the harvest, or as it is called, the Loud Cry of the Third Angel's Message of Revelation 18-the last message to the world. Thus, while the five men with the slaughter weapons are taking away those represented by the tares within the church, there will be silence inv heaven for about half an hour (seven days), after which the judgment will commence again for those who shall be sealed in the time of the great harvest, which is the end of the world." - The Shepherd's Rod, Volume 2 (1932), p.217.
Again: "The five agents that destroy the wicked in the church are not forces of nature but men with slaughter weapons in their hands. They are supernatural beings, not natural elements. "- The Answerer, No. 2 (1944), p.42-43. Although he says that this slaughter will not be performed by the seven last plagues, yet he affirms that "a common end (death) befalls both the wicked in the church of Laodicea, and the wicked in the churches of Babylon. And only those who say, 'We need not look for miracles and the marked manifestation of God's power as in former days,' think the slaughter is not literal."-The Shepherd's Rod, p.44
Thus they teach;
1. That Seventh-day Adventists, leaders and people, who reject the message of the Shepherd's Rod will be slaughtered during the half hour of Revelation 8:1.
2. That this half hour will mark the beginning of the time of harvest.
3. That the time of harvest is synchronous with the loud cry of the third angel's message.
4. That the removal of the tares from the church is the same as the slaughter referred to in Ezekiel 9.
5. That the slaughter of Ezekiel 9 will take place prior to the close of probation, and not at or subsequent to the second advent of Christ.
The Seventh-day Adventist Position Seventh-day Adventists hold that the slaughter of the unfaithful leaders and people in the church, as foretold in Ezekiel 9, will occur after the close of probation, and in the general destruction of the wicked during the falling of the seven last plagues and at the second coming of Christ in glory.
Ellen G. White, in a message of rebuke to those in the church who would excuse wrongdoing among the professed people of God, and who murmur against those who reprove sin, says:
"Unless they repent, and leave the work of Satan in oppressing those who have the burden of the work and in holding up the hands of sinners in Zion, they will never receive the mark of God's sealing approval. They will fall in the general destruction of the wicked, represented by the work of the five men bearing slaughter weapons. Mark this point with care: Those who receive the pure mark of truth, wrought in them by the power of the Holy Ghost, represented by a mark by the man in linen, are those 'that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the church. .
"But the general slaughter of all those who do not thus see the wide contrast between sin and righteousness, and do not feel as those do who stand in the counsel of God and receive the mark, is described in the order to the five men with slaughter weapons: Go ye after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity; slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at My sanctuary' [Ezekiel 9:56]"-3 Testimonies, p.267.
Note that, according to Mrs. White's statement, the slaughter foretold in Ezekiel 9 will be fulfilled "in the general slaughter of the wicked" that is to come. When will that be? In Testimonies to Ministers, p.431-432, Mrs. White indicates that this slaughter will take place during the pouring out of the seven last plagues after the close of probation for all mankind. In another place she describes more fully that awful time of slaughter of those who, both in and out of the church, shall have sinned away their day of grace by impenitence and disobedience. Their awakening in that terrible hour is pictured thus by her pen, calling particular attention to the fate of leaders of apostasy in the religious world generally:
"The people see that they have been deluded. They accuse one another of having led them to destruction; but all unite in heaping their bitterest condemnation upon the ministers. Unfaithful pastors have prophesied smooth things; they have led their hearers to make void the law of God and to persecute those who would keep it holy. Now, in their despair, these teachers confess before the world their work of deception. The multitudes are filled with fury. 'We are lost!' they cry, 'and you are the cause of our ruin;' and they turn upon the false shepherds. The very ones that once admired them most will pronounce the most dreadful curses upon them. The very hands that once crowned them with laurels will be raised for their destruction. The swords which were to slay God's people are now employed to destroy their enemies. Everywhere there is strife and bloodshed.
" 'A noise shall come even to the ends of the earth; for the lord hath a controversy with the nations, He will plead with all flesh; He will give them that are wicked to the sword.' Jeremiah 25:31 . For six thousand years the great controversy has been in progress; the Son of God and His heavenly messengers have been in conflict with the power of the evil one, to warn, enlighten, and save the children of men. Now, all have made their decision; the wicked have fully united with Satan in his warfare against God. The time has come for God to vindicate the authority of His downtrodden law. Now the controversy is not alone with Satan, but with men. 'The Lord has a controversy with the nations'; 'He will give them that are wicked to the sword.'
"The mark of deliverance has been set upon those 'that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done.' Now the angel of death goes forth, represented in Ezekiel's vision by the men with the slaughtering weapons, to whom the command is given: 'Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at My sanctuary.' Says the prophet, 'They began at the ancient men which were before the house.' Ezekiel 9:1-6. The work of destruction begins among those who have professed to be the spiritual guardians of the people. The false watchmen are the first to fall. There are none to pity or to spare. Men, women, maidens, and little children perish together.
"At the coming of Christ the wicked are blotted from the face of the whole earth-consumed with the spirit of His mouth and destroyed by the brightness of His glory. Christ takes His people to the city of God and the earth is emptied of its inhabitants." -Great Controversy, p.655-657.
The statements from the pen of Mrs. White clearly and definitely show that the slaughter foretold in Ezekiel 9 will not take place until after "all have made their decision," and at the time when the seven last plagues shall fall upon those who persist in disobeying God.
Furthermore, in comment on the parable of the ten virgins, Mrs. White makes it clear that there will be no general slaughter of unconverted Seventh day Adventists before the close of probation, for otherwise the unfaithful in the church, as represented by the five foolish virgins, would not be left to be found unprepared for probation's closing hour. The lord's servant says:
The great final test comes at the close of human probation, when it will be too late for the soul's need to be supplied. The ten virgins are watching in the evening of this earth's history. All claim to be Christians. All apparently wait for Christ's appearing. But five are unready. Five will be found surprised, dismayed, outside the banquet hall. Christ's Object Lessons, p.412.
Will There Be Two Comings of Christ? The Shepherd's Rod leader affirms that there will be two comings of Christ: (1) one invisible, in the investigative judgment, to slay the disobedient in the church before the close of probation; and (2) the other, a visible coming in glory, after the close of probation and the seven last plagues.
Mrs. White states: "When the work of the gospel is completed, there immediately follows the separation between the good and the evil. "-Christ's Object Lessons, p.123. In thus commenting on the parable of the net (in Matthew 13:47-50), Mrs. White shows that the good and the bad will not be separated until the close of probation.
When the attention of the author of The Shepherd's Rod was called to that statement by Mrs. White, he said:
"The separation which takes place when Christ comes the second time, is His taking the saints to heaven with Him (John 14:3; 1 Thessalonians 4:17) and leaving the wicked dead here on earth (2 Thessalonians 2:7-8). In this way His second coming does bring about a physical separation. But the preliminary separation takes place before the second advent of Christ, at His invisible coming, when He puts the 'sheep' on His right hand and the 'goats' on His left (Matthew 25:32-33; 13:30; Revelation 18:4; Matthew 13:48)."- The Answerer, No. 2 (1944), P 39.
Again, in commenting on Isaiah 66:15-17, the author of The Shepherd's Rod, Volume 1, 1930 edition, p.170, says: "The coming of the lord 'with fire . . to render his anger with fury,' is not the coming of Christ in the clouds to receive His people. it is before the close of probation, and in the time of the purification of the church."
Thus the Shepherd's Rod teaching is that there are to be two comings of Christ in connection with the closing events of this age: (1) an invisible coming before the dose of probation, to slay the disobedient in the church; and (2) a visible coming, after the close of probation, to receive his people. Note also that Mr. Houteff declares that the coming of Christ to separate the sheep from the goats, as foretold in Matthew 25:3134, will be an "invisible coming," and that this separation is to take place before the second advent of Christ. In so doing, the Shepherd's Rod leader contradicts what is taught in the writings of the Spirit of Prophecy. Mrs. White, in commenting on Matthew 25:31-34, declares that the separation of the sheep from the goats will take place when Christ shall come in glory:
"Not until the personal advent of Christ can His people receive the kingdom. The Saviour said: 'When the Son of man shall come in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then shall He sit upon the throne of His glory: and before Him shall be gathered all nations: and He shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: and He shall set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on His right hand, Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.' Matthew 25:31-34. We have seen by the scriptures just given that when the Son of Man comes, the dead are raised incorruptible and the living are changed. By this great change they are prepared to receive the kingdom; for Paul says: 'Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.' 1 Corinthians 15:50.-Great Controversy, p.322-323.
"The throne of glory represents the kingdom of glory; and this kingdom is referred to in the Saviour's words: 'When the Son of man shall come in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then shall He sit upon the throne of His glory: and before Him shall be gathered all nations.' Matthew 25:31-32. This kingdom is yet future. It is not to be set up until the second advent of Christ. "Great Controversy, p.347.
When Christ comes, He will "appear the second time," and not some third time. The statement in Hebrews 9:28 that "unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time; proves that there is to be a not previous coming of the lord with fire to slay the unfaithful in the church before probation closes. The Scriptures plainly show that Christ will come with fire when He comes to gather His people unto Himself. (See Psalm 50:3-5; 2 Thessalonians 1 :7-10). In her description of the deliverance of God's people at the second advent of Christ, Mrs. White says:
"Fierce lightnings leap from the heavens, enveloping the earth in a sheet of flame. "-Great Controversy, p.638.
A small cloud appears in the east. "The people of God know this to be the sign of the Son of man. In solemn silence they gaze upon it as it draws nearer the earth, becoming lighter and more glorious, until it is a great white cloud, its base a glory like consuming fire, and above it the rainbow of the covenant." -Great Controversy, p.640641.
"The King of kings descends upon the cloud, wrapped in flaming fire. The heavens are rolled together as a scroll, the earth trembles before Him, and every mountain and island is moved out of its place. 'Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence: a fire shall devour before Him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about Him. He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that He may judge His people." Psalms 50:3-4."-Great Controversy, p. 641-642.
"At the coming of Christ the wicked are blotted from the face of the whole earth-consumed with the spirit of His mouth and destroyed by the brightness of His glory. Christ takes His people to the city of God, and the earth is emptied of its inhabitants."-Great Controversy, p.657.
1. The Shepherd's Rod theory that the slaughter of the unfaithful in the church, as foretold in Ezekiel 9, will take place prior to the close of probation for all mankind and before the falling of the seven last plagues is an erroneous notion.
2. The truth is that the slaughter predicted in Ezekiel 9 will occur after the close of probation for all humanity. and in the general destruction of the wicked during the falling of the seven last plagues and at the second coming of Christ in glory.
(For further consideration of this subject, see the chapter entitled "The Harvest," on pages 14-20 of this study).